NETWORKED MEDIA ESSAY DRAFT 1
I can almost not even remember what life was like without online media. But how did this online world being the norm we know so well today? And what is it I actually do with online media to always want to be connected? Web 2.0 was a term that was developed in 2004 to describe how the world wide web was being utilised by developers (Kaplan & Haelein 2010). They had established a medium that no longer had the restraint of being created and published by a few individuals but was becoming a platform for collaborative modification by all users of the internet. (Kaplan & Haelein 2010). Due to this commercialization of the web there has been a clear change in attitude from the predominant internet user (Hinton & Hjorth 2013), and with the rise of social media as a platform, we now had the ability more than ever to readily publish, author and distribute whatever we want with very little restrictions put upon us (Hinton & Hjorth 2013).
Over the last week of documenting my online media use it really made me aware of how much my life revolves around the online world, in particular my social media platforms. When It came to documenting this down however I struggled a bit. I put this down to two reasons. One: because a lot of my social media use was pointless where I wasn’t actually authoring, publishing or distributing anything, and two because I found a lot of what I was doing to be really repetitive. Because we were documenting it in a blog format I wanted my reflections to still reflect my writing and have an interesting voice behind it. I felt by repeating myself this would eventually become boring to the reader, and yes I know this blog was for the purpose of class but I still found it hard to separate myself from the post as in my eyes this blog was still a reflection of my personality, just as my social media platforms are.
To get around this I decided to take the approach where I would try focus on a certain media platform each day so I could therefore go into more depth and try to pinpoint how exactly I was authoring, publishing and distributing in each platform: therefore identifying how I actually use online media. I found that I actually didn’t do as much authoring, publishing and distributing as I thought I did, and when I did there was a very particular thought process that went behind it. I agree that social media is empowering (Hinton & Hjorth 2013) but I also believe it embodies narcissism in the user especially when we validate ourselves with the stance on how many likes, comments or shares we get on a post.
Lets look at my instagram post for example. Until I actually took the time to think about what goes behind posting a picture I thought it was as simple as picking a photo I wanted to share with my followers and posting it. This is so far from the truth in my experience. There was always thought about timing (when was there going to be the highest amount of traffic interacting with instagram at that time). Then there was the right filter to cover it in and if it didn’t have enough likes in 24 hours is it even worth keeping up there. It was embarrassing to think that a lot of my online media use revolved around process like this and towards the end of my documentation I began to feel quite uncomfortable with myself.
By becoming more aware of what I do with online media and how much time I spend on social media platforms I thought about if I could go a day stepping away from the screen and if doing so would my so called ‘wasted time’ with online media be turned into something more productive? It was here when I decided to challenge myself to do the complete opposite of what we had just documented. In 2010, ICMPA completed a study with students from the University of Maryland called 24 hours: Unplugged where they were forced to go a whole day without engaging with any type of online media. Many believed they wouldn’t be able to function without their media links to the world however by the end of it many had also realised the benefits and limitations the presence of media was having on their lives (The world unplugged 2010).
I thought I would push myself and try to go just over 48 hours without it. It hadn’t even been an hour without my phone where I was experiencing feelings of withdrawal. Almost like an addiction where I was trying to find a way to involve myself. There was even points where my housemates had to monitor me to make sure I didn’t break it. How ridiculous is that that online media can have such a drawing force on my life? After the 48 hours was up it was straight to my phone to check in with the social media platforms and yeah I might have missed a photo here and there but was there really anything that important I couldn’t have gone without? Similar to the students who undertook the study the hardest thing I found was the inability to direct my lives without media (The world unplugged study 2010). I did find I had so much more time when I wasn’t completely connected to the online world that I certainly could be using in a more productive way.
Upon completing this online documentation I think I found a lot about how I personally use and engage with online media. Before my media detox there almost wasn’t a second when I wasn’t engaging in some type of online media as in this day and age we are always carrying devices that connect us. Yes we say we can’t live without it but how do we defer between what is useful in our online media use and what is a complete waste of time. I would love to go into more depth about the study ICMPA completed however due to the 1000 word limit of this essay I feel like it was quite hard to go into depth. If I have learnt anything from this exercise it’s certainly that I rely way too much on my online media use and I hope that In the future I can teach myself to be more aware of the time I spend online.
Hinton, S & Hjorth, L 2013, Understanding Social Media, Sage Publications, New Delhi, India.
Kaplan, A.M. & Haelein, M 2010, ‘Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media’,Business Horizons, vol. 53, pp. 59-68.
Dr. Moeller S 2010. The world unplugged. Blog viewed Wednesday 5th April 2017, < https://theworldunplugged.wordpress.com/>